Archive for the ‘Miscellaneous’ Category

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Joining ITA with Laser Focus

June 25, 2014

Stefan M. Selig is the Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade.

Under Secretary Selig addresses ITA staff at his first all-hands meeting.

Under Secretary Selig addresses ITA staff at his first all-hands meeting.

It is an absolute honor to begin my service as the Under Secretary of International Trade.

After being sworn in by Secretary Pritzker on Monday, I had my first opportunity to address the International Trade Administration’s global team today, and my message was very clear:

ITA will be laser-focused on serving our clients.

We will support the Commerce Department mission and Secretary Pritzker’s charge to reinvigorate our support for trade and investment in the United States.

We know why this is important: exports support 11.3 million U.S. jobs and foreign direct investment supports 5.6 million jobs.

Our economic growth relies on more businesses going global, and ITA helps make that happen. Our services can give any business interested in exporting, and any investor looking for a new opportunity, a leg up on the competition.

As someone who has been an investment banker for almost 30 years, my professional life was built around client service. The loyalty, support, and friendship of so many of my clients will always be a highlight of my career.

For any company that is an ITA client, our team will make your business needs our top priority.

I know how important it is for U.S. companies to engage in the global market; 95 percent of global consumers live outside the United States, so companies that aren’t exporting are missing a huge opportunity.

I look forward to working with my newest client, a world-class business executive named Penny Pritzker. I look forward to working with the International Trade Administration’s experts as we continue our important mission of supporting international trade and investment.

If your business is looking to expand in the global marketplace and you have not yet taken advantage of our services, I encourage you to contact us now. There’s no better team to have in your corner.

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Secretary Pritzker Swears in New Commercial Service Officers

June 20, 2014

This post originally appeared on the Department of Commerce blog.

Secretary Penny Pritzker swears in new commercial officers.

Secretary Penny Pritzker swears in new commercial officers.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker today swore in 24 new Foreign Commercial Service Officers and one Intellectual Property Attachè at the Commerce Department. The ceremony marked an exciting beginning to these officers’ careers in overseas and domestic markets where they will work to strengthen the American economy by supporting U.S. businesses in the global marketplace.

The administration is committed to increasing U.S. exports, which support millions of jobs.  U.S. exports have set records for four consecutive years, reaching $2.3 trillion in 2013. These exports now support 11.3 million jobs in the United States. The recent launch of the NEI/NEXT campaign by Secretary Pritzker has built on the momentum of the recent growth to encourage American companies to take their business to overseas markets.

Expanding trade and investment is a central part of the Department’s ‘Open for Business Agenda’ and having an overseas presence is one critical way to support U.S. businesses seeking to grow in foreign markets.

During a recent trip to Burma, Secretary Pritzker announced the Department of Commerce will expand its overseas resources to help U.S. businesses navigate additional global markets and sell their goods and services to customers all over the world. The Department’s International Trade Administration will add a total of 68 new positions and open offices in five new countries, including its first in Burma. The expansion is largely focused on fast-growing markets in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.  The Department of Commerce will soon add new offices in Africa and Asia in order to facilitate exports in these critical markets.

The new officers bring a wealth of knowledge and experience from their prior private or public sector service. Of the more than 3,800 candidates, these 25 men and women were chosen because of their constant resourcefulness, tenacity, and of course, diplomacy.

These new Commercial Service Officers play a vital role in the enhancement of American businesses. They support U.S. businesses in overcoming trade barriers, finding global business opportunities and partners, and attracting investment to U.S. shores. These officers will be the boots on the ground, leading the charge to open new markets and helping companies compete in the global marketplace.

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Brazil and U.S. Share More Than Just Love of Soccer

June 19, 2014

This post contains external links. Please review our external linking policy.

Jonathan Gartenberg is an Intern in the International Trade Administration’s Office of Trade and Economic Analysis

Fans from many countries watch a sporting event.

World Cup fever plays a part in the expanding U.S.-Brazil commercial relationship.

The FIFA World Cup is underway and all over the world, excitement grows as fans cheer on their national teams.

Americans are no exception.

In fact the Brazilian Federal Government reported that more than 150,000 tickets were assigned to the United States – more than any other country outside Brazil.

By cheering on the U.S. team, fans are not only supporting players but contributing to the growing commercial relationship between Brazil and the United States.

Below are some highlights from Brazil’s economic and trade profile:

  • Like the United States, Brazil is mainly a service economy. In 2012, services comprised 68.5 percent of Brazil’s economy, compared to 78.6 percent of the U.S. economy in 2011.
  • Brazil is a net exporter to the world and had a 2013 trade balance of $2.5 billion. In the same year, Brazil’s exports totaled $242 billion.
  • As recipient of $44.1 billion of U.S. exports in 2013, Brazil earns a spot in the Top 10 U.S. Export Markets. Our top five exports to Brazil, are chemicals, transportation equipment, computer and electronic products, machinery (except electrical), and petroleum and coal products.
  • U.S. and Brazil mutual foreign direct investment totals more than $80 billion dollars, supporting thousands of jobs in both countries.

Even when world sporting events aren’t going on, the Department of Commerce, International Trade Administration (ITA), and other government partners work hard to further develop the U.S.-Brazil commercial relationship. ITA maintains five offices around the country, and our commercial specialists connect U.S. companies to qualified partners and promising business opportunities.

You can learn more about the work ITA is doing in Brazil at http://www.export.gov/brazil, or follow our Brazil team on Twitter at @Export2Brazil.

Stay tuned for more economic profiles on the countries competing in the World Cup!

 

*Except where noted, all figures are from Trade Policy Information System.

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New Expansion to Support New Opportunities

April 29, 2014

Arun Kumar is the Assistant Secretary for Global Markets and Director General of the U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service.

Arun Kumar is the Assistant Secretary for Global Markets and Director General of the U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service.

Arun Kumar

This post originally appeared on the Department of Commerce blog.

Last week, Commerce Secretary Pritzker made an important announcement that demonstrates the United States’ commitment to supporting developing economies and the Department of Commerce’s commitment to U.S. businesses competing overseas.

The Department’s International Trade Administration will open offices in five new markets, bringing Foreign Commercial Service (CS) officers into some of the world’s most rapidly developing economies. In cooperation with the U.S. State Department, we will open offices in Angola, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Tanzania, and Burma this calendar year.

These new offices, and our staff additions in other offices around the world, will make us more capable of supporting U.S. exporters. We can support more Gold Key Matchmaking, we can conduct more market research, and we can help connect U.S. companies to more global markets.

As a new member of the Department of Commerce team, I’m very excited to be a part of this major expansion – especially in such important markets for U.S. businesses.

Sub-Saharan Africa is one of the fastest growing economic regions in the world. The International Monetary Fund predicts continued growth throughout the continent, as part of a broad continental economic transformation.

Our new offices will support White House initiatives like Trade Africa and Power Africa, which have spearheaded a larger campaign to bolster development throughout the continent.

As U.S. companies look to ship goods to Africa, help increase electrical capacity, or help improve transportation networks, they will receive unparalleled assistance and expertise from our staff. With our new offices on the continent, we will be able to find partners for American companies, help navigate regulatory hurdles, and support the development that will make Africa thrive.

Our team in Thailand is already assisting American companies doing business in Burma, and our new office in Rangoon is a symbol of the importance of this market and of America’s commitment to Burmese reform, growth, and increased openness. We know that the Burmese people see U.S. goods as being of high quality, and the nation’s businesses are looking to get involved with American companies.

As this expansion takes place, these markets are where we will truly see the mutual benefits of trade.

As U.S. companies find more opportunities in these growing economies, they will bring the infrastructure and ideas that improves quality of life for citizens and they will support the partnerships that spur innovation among local businesses.

This announcement is just the start. I’m very excited to see how this expansion will help support existing partnerships, create new opportunities, and bring about the kind of development that is only possible through global trade.

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An Economist’s View: Using Trade Data to Predict the Final Four

April 4, 2014

Natalie Soroka is an economist in the International Trade Administration’s Office of Trade and Economic Analysis. She spends more time focusing on international trade statistics and trends than on basketball…

Economist Natalie Soroka used trade data and an unorthodox equation to predict the winner of the Final Four. Her prediction is Wisconsin beating Florida.

Economist Natalie Soroka used trade data and an unorthodox equation to predict the winner of the Final Four.

The emotional whirlwind of March Madness is nearing a close, with the Final Four teams getting ready to face off this Saturday. Brackets have been busted, face paint smeared with tears, hearts have been broken, and our Cinderellas have turned into pumpkins, but it’s not over yet!

Who will be victorious? Is there anything in the trade data that can give us a clue? Let’s give it a try, shall we?

Methodology:

One can reason that there are several aspects (“variables”, if you will) that can help a team attain the title of national champion:

  • skills or talent,
  • nutrition to keep players healthy,
  • healthcare and medicine to take care of injuries, and
  • supplies for actually playing the game.

In other words, to be a little “mathy” about it (just bear with me):

Winning = ƒ(skills, nutrition, healthcare, supplies) + ε

Translation: Winning is a function of the variables listed above, plus that little “ε” at the end, which would be the error term indicating that there are various things we aren’t able to account for (Mercer, anyone?).

So if we were to try and look at these four variables in an extremely simple analysis, using the very same publicly available data we use to counsel U.S. exporters, can we predict a winner?

 

Skills and Talent:

We may not have data readily available on “skill” or “talent,” but as these players are all represent educational institutions, we can assume that the state’s educational services industry plays a role.

Among the four states represented in the Final Four, Florida has the largest educational services industry by far, amounting to nearly $8 billion in 2012, topping Connecticut’s respectable $4.7 billion. On the Midwest/West side, Wisconsin’s $2.7 billion educational services industry tops Kentucky’s $1.1 billion.

But what about exports? After all, we are the International Trade Administration. The Institute of International Education collects information on foreign students hosted by U.S. universities, which can be used as a proxy for higher education exports. While not all players are international students, one could reason that a school (or state) that has international appeal is also one that would be able to pull the best talent.

Using the IIE’s data (which we also highlighted in a blog post last week), the University of Florida tops the list with 5,961 foreign students. The University of Wisconsin again has the upper hand over Kentucky here, with 5,291 international students. Finally, we can take into account each university’s seed at the beginning of the tournament as an indicator of the team’s record and other skills not captured above. Who comes out on top?

Winners:

University of Florida v. University of Connecticut: Florida

University of Wisconsin v. University of Kentucky: Wisconsin     

Nutrition:

Healthy eating makes for healthy people and athletes. Looking at state import data, Florida tops the list for its imports of products such as meat, fish, fruits, vegetables, and grains. However, isn’t Wisconsin in the Midwest, the home of those “amber waves of grain”? In fact, with its $4.5 billion farming industry in 2011, Wisconsin does come out on top among these states, followed by Florida, Kentucky, and Connecticut.

Finally, we can take a look at who imports the most processed foods, the “bad guy” du jour when it comes to health. Despite being known for its citrus fruits and water springs, Florida blows its competitors out of the water with $1.9 billion in processed foods imports in 2013, worsening its overall nutrition rating. Instead, Kentucky comes out on top with only $233 million of processed foods imports.

So who wins the “healthiness” battle? Looks like those amber waves really help.

Winners:             

University of Florida v. University of Connecticut: Florida

University of Wisconsin v. University of Kentucky: Wisconsin     

Healthcare:

As we’ve all seen, injuries sadly do occur. When these unfortunate events take place, good healthcare services and medical supplies are necessary to fix up young players and get them back on the court.

Again, we see Florida rising to the top over Connecticut with its $67.5 billion healthcare services industry in 2012, and Wisconsin topping Kentucky at $23.5 billion. With regards to medical supplies, Kentucky tops the rest of these states when it comes to imports of pharmaceutical products, with $4.6 billion of imports in 2013. However, for medical and surgical instruments, Florida again tops the list with nearly $2.3 billion of imports in 2013, followed by Wisconsin’s $1.5 billion of imports.

Overall, Florida wins on healthcare, driven by its large industry and imports of medical instruments.

Winners:             

University of Florida v. University of Connecticut: Florida

University of Wisconsin v. University of Kentucky: Wisconsin     

Sports Supplies:

What good is a basketball team if there’s no basketball to dunk?

Kentucky topped these states when it comes to imports of inflatable balls (including basketballs), at $35 million in 2013. As for other supplies, Wisconsin rose to the top in imports of athletic footwear, coming in at $70 million in 2013.

Finally, to keep the athletes in shape off the court, Wisconsin again topped the list with $105 million in imports of general gym equipment, pushing the state to the top of this category.

Winners:             

University of Florida v. University of Connecticut: Florida

University of Wisconsin v. University of Kentucky: Wisconsin     

So where does that leave us? If we average out the “scores” for each state/team, we wind up with one state’s economy pushing its team to the top:

University of Wisconsin (Go Badgers!)

However, if my personal bracket is any indication, that “little ‘ε’” isn’t quite so little, so you may be best off just throwing a dart and picking one at random. Generating purely random scores for the Final Four teams, we wind up with (……drumroll…….):

University of Florida (Yay Gators!)

Using random selection, Natalie's bracket points to Florida beating Kentucky in the championship.

How will this analysis fare? Will data help the Badgers win the day, or is the championship at the mercy of the court gods? I suppose there’s only one way to find out.

Enjoy the games!

 

No economists were harmed during the creation of this off-the-cuff and highly spurious analysis. The author drew on extensive basketball experience gained from middle-school gym class, casual sports viewership, and years of practice using the esteemed “mascot method” of bracket picking.

Domestic production data is the latest available from the Bureau of Economic Analysis’ Regional Economic Accounts. State import data was retrieved from ITA’s TradeStats Express platform: http://tse.export.gov/stateimports.

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Spotlight on Commerce: Kim Glas, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Textiles, Consumer Goods, and Materials, International Trade Administration

March 26, 2014

This post originally appeared on the Department of Commerce blog.

Kim Glas is the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Textiles, Consumer Goods, and Materials in the International Trade Administration.

Kim Glas is the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Textiles, Consumer Goods, and Materials in the International Trade Administration.

Serving as the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Textiles, Consumer Goods, and Materials, my job is to improve the domestic and international competitiveness of the broad product range of U.S. textiles, footwear, consumer goods, metals and mining, forest products, and chemicals and plastics manufacturing sectors and industries. This position requires strong negotiation and problem-solving skills and the ability to work with a broad array of stakeholders with divergent opinions in order to find solutions on a whole host of issues.

Over the last 3 years, I have spent significant time at the negotiating table for the Trans-Pacific Partnership Free Trade Agreement to ensure opportunities under the agreement for U.S. textile and footwear producers. I coordinate within the ITA and across agencies to ensure we can deliver results for companies and the workers they employ. While the job has been challenging, it has been an incredibly rewarding opportunity. I have worked with top-notch staff across the Department and in the Administration who are driven to expanding opportunities for U.S. industries and workers.

Having worked in two Administrations and on Capitol Hill, I have always been driven by a mission to serve the American people and have been fortunate to do so throughout my career. Growing up, my parents, extended family, teachers, and mentors were incredibly supportive of me and instilled in me to work hard, serve others, and have a strong sense of self. I grew up in the close-knit community of Lockport, NY located near Buffalo during a time when many industries in the area were facing enormous economic hardships. Layoffs all too often were the front page news of the local paper. My high school experience reflected what was happening in the community – and I knew that I wanted to make it better.

When I went to college at the State University of New York at Geneseo, I thought I would serve my community by becoming a social studies teacher. The trajectory of my life changed when I took a history class with Dr. Bill Cook. As a grade conscious student, I knew taking a class with him all but assured I would not graduate at the top of my class – but I didn’t care. He brought history to life and connected it to our modern day political structure. When he ran for Congress in a campaign destined to lose, I followed him and decided I didn’t want to teach about government, I wanted to be an active participant in it. I believed in the community I grew up in and communities like it across the country and knew I wanted to serve.

The main driver of my career success has been the people I have met along the way. They are the reason I do what I do. They will continue to be my sense of purpose going forward. To understand yourself and the people around you, gives you an appreciation for those who share different perspectives or share common motivations.

I have always admired my distant cousin Amelia Earhart who pushed herself to soar above the clouds in unchartered territory and in doing so, broke the barriers of history. She once said, “The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity. The fears are paper tigers. You can do anything you decide to do.” Seize the moment, push the envelope, know yourself, and never forget where you came from or the people on whose shoulders you stand.

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March Madness Earns an A in Economics

March 24, 2014

Chris Higginbotham is a Public Affairs Specialist in the International Trade Administration’s Office of Public Affairs.

This infographic from the International Institute of Education shows that more than 819,000 international students studied in the United States in 2013.

Institute of International Education. (2013). Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange. Retrieved from http://www.iie.org/opendoors

If you’re anything like me, you spent the weekend locked in front of the television, watching the NCAA Tournament. Hearts were broken (including mine), underdogs were victorious, and former champions were sent packing.

Perhaps the best part of it all is that we were supporting the U.S. economy the entire time!

Maybe you didn’t realize it, but the NCAA Tournament, one of the pinnacle sporting and cultural events in the United States, is a tremendous supporter of several export industries.

One obvious industry the Tournament supports is education. The athletes competing in this event are students representing some of America’s great universities.

The education industry is a huge part of the American economy, supporting jobs and fostering research and innovation.

Education is also a major service export. The United States has some of the world’s best universities, hosting hundreds of thousands of foreign students. Those students pay tuition and living expenses, including room and board, transportation, books, and health insurance. Since most of those expenditures come from sources outside the United States, they are considered exports.

Commerce data show that international students contributed a record $24.7 billion to the U.S. economy, part of a record $682 billion in services exports.

The NAFSA Association of International Educators says that education exports support 313,000 jobs in the United States, a 6.2 percent increase from 2012 and a crucial contributor to our economic growth.

Here are some more key highlights about education exports from the Institute of International Education:

·         A record 819,644 international students studied in the United States in 2012-2013;

·         The top two fields of study for international students are business and engineering;

·         The University of Southern California hosts the most foreign students, at 9,840.

Outside of the classroom, you’ll also see some international students competing on the basketball court.

The standout is Kansas University’s Andrew Wiggins, the Canadian player who was a top basketball recruit last year. There’s also NC State’s Jordan Vandenberg from Australia, UCLA’s Sooren Derboghosian from Iran, and Notre Dame’s Natalie Achonwa from Canada, among others.

As NAFSA points out, the benefits of international students studying in the United States last a lot longer than the road to the Final Four. Foreign students bring unique perspectives into American classrooms, broadening horizons for everyone involved. The relationships formed and cultural exchanges made help build bridges across borders.

So just remember the next time you watch a game, even if your team loses, you’re helping the U.S. economy win!

For more information about the education industry and how the International Trade Administration supports it, check out our updates on the ITA blog.

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ITA Focused on Expanding U.S. Business Opportunities in Iraq

March 19, 2014

Kevin Reichelt is an International Trade Specialist with the International Trade Administration’s Iraq and Afghanistan Investment and Reconstruction Task Force.

Nearly four years after the end of military operations, Iraq has become an important destination for U.S. merchandise exports. U.S. exports to Iraq topped $2 billion in 2013, and U.S. companies invested more than $1.2 billion in Iraq.

The U.S.-Iraq Business Dialogue (USIBD) continues to support expanding the U.S.-Iraq commercial relationship by increasing U.S. exports and creating jobs in both countries.

Acting Under Secretary for International Trade Ken Hyatt and officials from Iraq’s Ministry of Trade convened an USIBD executive committee in Washington on March 4. Their discussion focused on increasing bilateral trade and investment in Iraq.

The USIBD was created in 2006 as an effort to integrate more American firms into the Iraq market. Now in its fourth installment, the USIBD continues to serve as an arena for open communication between U.S. and Iraq’s private sector members.

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U.S. Exporters: ITA Innovators are Here to Help!

March 14, 2014

Aileen Crowe Nandi is a Commercial Officer in San Jose California

As exporters’ needs change, we at ITA must adapt with them. The U.S. government – and our clients – faces myriad issues on a daily basis that require customized solutions. From helping a shipment of apples clear customs in South India to resolving a biotech regulatory barrier in Europe to assisting a small cloud reseller land deals in Ghana, we regularly tweak our services to assist each company with its unique set of issues. A “one-size-fits-all” technique does not apply to international trade.

To capitalize on our entrepreneurial objectives and to share and communicate even better across the Commercial Service (CS) – an organization spanning 100 domestic offices and 72 countries– we launched the Crowdsource (CS2) initiative. CS2 is designed to engage more employees at all levels by enabling them to propose and vote on ideas to change and/or improve how we help U.S. exporters. The winning ideas are then brought to senior agency leaders.

We structured CS2 as a quarterly “Pitchfest” competition, taking a cue from the dynamic venture capital industry. Colleagues are encouraged to submit short written, innovative proposals which are subsequently “crowdsourced” in a democratic voting process. The top three ideas then move on to an oral pitchfest.

The CS2 team, comprised of two International Trade Specialists (Melissa Branzburg, Boston, and Shari Stout, Peoria) and two Commercial Officers (Marianne Drain and myself), represents both the international and domestic units of our organization. Additionally, we have a cross-section of colleagues from HQ and the field (as far as Australia) to serve as “Interested Innovators” to judge the oral pitches to determine the final winner.

We began with the “B2B” theme, as it impacts the very core of how we help U.S. exporters. With fourteen B2B proposals and over 200 voters, the winning idea from the B2B pitchfest was the “Initial Market Check” (IMC), submitted by Heather Ranck in our North Dakota Export Assistance Center.

The IMC entails a fee-based service that would enable exporters to gain critical market insights for individual American companies (in the form of a short report) to determine whether to further pursue export opportunities in a given market. Though Heather had already been innovatively undertaking IMCs for her North Dakota clients, we are working with HQ to formalize the service to allow all colleagues to conduct IMCs for all exporters. Stay tuned for updates!

Our next pitchfest on “Commercial Intelligence” will take place on April 29th. What kind of commercial intelligence do YOU want from ITA? Your input will ensure that we are well positioned to facilitate your success in international markets.

With your input we can better provide the services you need to help your businesses succeed. We look forward to hearing your great ideas!

Aileen Nandi

Melissa Branzburg

Shari Stout

Marianne Drain

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President Obama’s FY 2015 Budget Proposes a $36.7 Million Increase for ITA

March 14, 2014

Ken Hyatt is the Acting Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade.A view of the front of US Department of Commerce Building Washington, D.C.

The International Trade Administration (ITA) staff works diligently to help U.S. businesses – small, medium, and large – sell their products and services across the globe, which helps grow the U.S. economy and improve our global competitiveness. President Obama highlighted the importance of ITA’s work through his FY 2015 budget request.

The President released his fiscal year 2015 budget last week, will full Commerce Department budget information and analyses released today. The FY15 budget included $497.3 million for ITA, which is a $36.7 million increase from the $460.6 million appropriated in 2014. This increase will allow us to better serve American businesses through expanding access to markets, ensuring a level playing field for doing business abroad and helping foreign companies invest in the U.S.

In addition, the budget includes a call from the President to rename ITA the International Trade and Investment Administration, a move that more accurately reflects the mission of our organization and acknowledges our ongoing efforts to attract foreign direct investment to the United States. It also more accurately reflects the mission of ITA and how we help create jobs, not just from exports, but from inward investment.

The United States is the largest recipient of foreign direct investment (FDI) in the world. In 2012, FDI brought $160 billion into the United States economy. In addition, FDI supported more than 5.6 million jobs in the United States in 2011. That’s 4 percent of our total private sector employment.

The SelectUSA program is the first federal-wide effort to promote and facilitate business investment as an engine for job growth and economic development. It serves as the single point of contact at the national level to help international and domestic firms grow and invest in the United States.

With more money and a more accurate name for our institution, we are confident we’ll help even more American businesses grow and create jobs through our many resources and services! If your business is ready to start exporting or re-shoring, take a look at our website to get started making the most of international markets.

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